A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Podiatry: 3 things to know about foot health

Podiatrist talks about foot health with patient

Don’t suffer with persistent aches and pains in your foot and ankle. These can be warning signs of an issue that could get worse.

Swelling and foot pain aren’t normal. If you have difficulty doing daily activities, or if you have pain for weeks or months that doesn’t go away you should see a podiatrist.

A podiatrist is an orthopedic provider who treats foot and ankle conditions. Common issues that would go to podiatrist include aches and pains in the foot and ankle, injuries, bunions, hammertoes and flat feet. They also work closely with people who have diabetes to help prevent and treat wounds and infections.

“Pain is your body’s way of telling something is wrong,” said Dr. Kerry Dernbach, Marshfield Clinic Health System podiatrist. “You can work through pain, but a tendon that’s inflamed can become a tendon torn, or a sore bone may turn into a stress fracture.”

COVID-19’s impact on foot health

Like many areas of life, COVID-19 shifted everyday habits, including footwear. With many people working from home, more people were going barefoot or without shoes on a more regular basis. “As a result without the support that shoes provide, some people are experiencing plantar fasciitis and other tendon issues,” Dernbach said.

Importance of foot health for diabetics

People with diabetes can develop neuropathy, or numbness on their feet. Pain from a callus or blister is a warning sign. However, with numbness those warning signals are missed and it could become an open sore or infected. Dernbach encourages diabetes to always check their feet. “Use mirror to check the bottom of your feet if you need to,” she said. Look for areas calluses, ulcers or open sores and pressure wounds. Keep your skins in tact and avoid redness and cracks in your skin.

“If left untreated a callus can turn into an open sore that gets infected, and that can lead to amputation,” Dernbach said.

Choose your shoe based on activity

There are countless styles of shoes, and Dernbach recommends using the right shoe for the activity. If you’re walking use a supportive shoe. When hiking on uneven ground, wear a hiking boot. “Flip flops are great for the pool, but not for all day, which could lead to aches, pains and tendon issues,” she said.

“A lot of people struggle with foot and ankle issues,” Dernbach said. “Treatment doesn’t always have to include medications, there are many options we can offer people to help decrease pain.”

You don’t have to suffer with foot pain. Make an appointment with a podiatrist for a diagnosis and treatment plan that fits your lifestyle goals.

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